MLB Series Of Weekend: Dodgers At Cardinals
There is clearly one series to circle on the baseball schedule this weekend: the Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals. The teams have met in the past two playoffs and seem likely to do so again. St. Louis is a -155 series favorite at BetOnline as it won’t have to face Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw — that might actually be a good thing for L.A.
Another Playoff Preview?
The Cardinals have won the NL Central two years straight and are favored to again. The Dodgers have won two NL West titles in a row and are favorites to do so again. The Cardinals have become the playoff killers of the Dodgers, especially Kershaw. In the 2013 National League Championship Series, the Cardinals won in six games. Guess who they beat in the clincher? Kershaw, knocking him around for seven runs and 10 hits in just four innings. Last season, the Cardinals beat the Dodgers in four games in the NLDS. They beat Kershaw twice, in Games 1 and 4 — both times with unlikely sixth-inning rallies.
The Cardinals got some bad news this week when first baseman Matt Adams tore a quad muscle. He was to have surgery on Friday and may miss the season. The 26-year-old Adams emerged as a middle-of-the-lineup threat in 2013–14, hitting a combined .287/.327/.474 with 32 homers and a 119 OPS+, but after a strong April (.304/.338/.493), he had tailed off drastically in May (.187/.228/.267). To date, he has a 77 OPS+ and just four homers in 153 PA. For the moment, righty-swinging platoon partner Mark Reynolds (.253/.321/.404 with three homers and a 97 OPS+) will handle first base chores, but the 31-year-old free swinger’s recent track record (.209/.297/.394 with 43 homers, a 91 OPS+ and just 0.3 WAR for three teams in ’13 and ’14) suggests he’s of more value as a long ball threat off the bench than a full-blown replacement.
Don’t be surprised if the team makes a trade as the July 31 deadline approaches. One name that’s been mentioned in connection with the vacancy is that of Ryan Howard, a St. Louis native who is enjoying a minor revival in Philadelphia. The 35-year-old Howard already has 10 homers, and even with a 49/8 strikeout-to-walk ratio, his .256/.298/.519 line is good for a 122 OPS+, his best since 2011, the season that ended with him blowing out his left Achilles tendon.
Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson is a barometer for how the team is playing. In wins, the rookie is hitting .295 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs; in losses, his average slips to .189 with four home runs and only four RBIs, entering Wednesday’s game.
Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter has been a thorn in the side of the Dodgers his entire career. He is hitting .324 against Los Angeles in his career, and he hit .375 against the Dodgers last postseason.
Friday — Dodgers RHP Mike Bolsinger at Cardinals RHP John Lackey: Bolsinger is coming off the best start of his career, where he retired 23 batters in a row and allowed just one hit. Bolsinger won’t overpower hitters with velocity, but his biting curveball has kept hitters off balance this season. Lackey should be well-rested for this game, as he throws on five days’ rest after consecutive starts of fewer than 80 pitches. He is 5-3 against the Dodgers in his career.
Saturday — Dodgers RHP Carlos Frias at Cardinals RHP Michael Wacha: Frias has earned the loss the past two times out, including giving up 10 runs to the Padres on May 24. He’s fared much better on the road, however, with a 3.00 ERA on the road against a 7.02 mark at Dodger Stadium. The Cardinals are 9-0 in Wacha’s starts this season. He posted a 2.42 ERA during a 4-0 April and has a 1.42 ERA during a 3-0 May. He will be facing the Dodgers for the first time in the regular season but went 2-0 against L.A. in the 2013 NLCS.
Sunday — Dodgers LHP Brett Anderson at Cardinals RHP Carlos Martinez: Anderson, in his second year in the NL, will be an unknown to the Cardinals lineup. Only two current Redbirds have experience against the left-hander. Jhonny Peralta and Peter Bourjos are hitting a combined .150 in 20 at-bats against Anderson. Martinez will make his fourth career start against the Dodgers in search of his first win against them. He’ll do so coming off of consecutive scoreless outings in which he struck out 13 while walking only four.
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